We’ve started to play with the images of the objects we photographed at the Wende Museum last month–objects we’ll be using in the 1989 project database. Here are just three examples of the sorts of things we’re planning to include:
This first object is a flashlight. It’s dimensions are approximately 4″ tall by 2″ wide and it is the kind of thing you would keep in the kitchen drawer in case the power went out.
But here is what you see if you open the flashlight up–it is a radio that was used by East German agents for listening to or broadcasting messages across the Berlin Wall.
This is an East German passport from the early 1970s. But in this case the context of the object is crucial–this particular passport came from a passport making kit used by an East German agent in West Berlin. Only if you know the circumstances under which the passport was collected does it appear to be more than just a passport.
One of the many, many certificates individual citizens received for service to the state in some way. In this particular case, the certificate is for participation in the East German Communist youth organization.
We plan to use some of the tools being developed in another CHNM project — Object of History — to help students make sense of items from everyday life. One tool I’m particularly enthusiastic about will allow them to curate their own exhibit in a museum. They will select a small number of artifacts to include in that exhibit, will write the informational materials, and will then see an online version of the exhibition.